Comment & Analysis - October 27, 2011
George Sherry (1924-2011)
George Sherry, an adviser to former International Peace Academy Presidents Olara Otunnu and David Malone from 1995-1998, passed away on October 21st after a long illness. George brought his extensive knowledge and insights on the Middle East and Cyprus from his long experience at the United Nations to inform conferences and publications of IPA, which changed its name to the International Peace Institute (IPI) in 2008. He also organized the Simulation Exercises for the IPA Training seminar in Vienna. George is well remembered for sharing his UN experience with great wit and charm with the next generation of IPA researchers and staff.
A graduate of the City College of New York and fluent in five languages, George had a distinguished career at the UN. He joined the organization as an editor and interpreter at the height of the Cold War, interpreting speeches from Russian to English in the General Assembly and other UN bodies with great skill. As noted in the October 27th New York Timesobituary, interpretations of speeches by Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky became well known for being “just as impassioned, angry, sarcastic, sardonic, pleading and furious” as the original largely extemporized speech in Russian.
In 1960, George joined the UN Secretariat, working for 25 years in the Special Political Affairs Department (the predecessor of DPA and DPKO) as part of the small team led by Undersecretary-General Brian Urquhart. This included assignments as Political Officer in the newly independent Congo following the Katanga secession, negotiating the establishment of a UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) during the Greek-Turkish war, as well as directing UN efforts in peacekeeping in Kashmir in 1965 and the Falklands War in 1982-83.
Following his retirement from the UN in 1985, George became Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College. He was the Founder and first Director of the Occidental College United Nations program until 2001, bringing over 300 students to hold internships in the UN Secretariat and member state missions as well as presenting courses on peacemaking and peacekeeping, the Middle East, and US foreign policy (I have run the program since 2002). At the 2005 20th anniversary celebration of the UN Program, Acting President Kenyon Chan awarded George an honorary degree in recognition of his service to the college. Flags have been flown at half mast on the Los Angeles campus this week in his memory.
John L. Hirsch, IPI Senior Adviser
October 27, 2011
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